News broke yesterday evening on Midwest Radio that Barry Moran has decided to call time on his inter-county career. The 32 year-old Castlebar Mitchels clubman was involved in the senior panel for the last thirteen years, during which time he featured in four All-Ireland finals and won six Connacht senior championship medals.
The story is widely covered today – it’s the leading piece in the sports section of the Mayo News (paper and digital variants) and it also features elsewhere: RTÉ, The 42, Irish Sun, Irish Mirror. There’s an official statement from Mayo GAA as well on Barry’s retirement: that’s here.
Barry first broke into the senior panel back in 2005, at which point he was only a year out of the minor ranks. The previous year he’d played championship football at both minor and U21 levels, scoring a goal in that year’s All-Ireland U21 final on a day when we went under to Armagh by two points.
His first senior appearance was off the bench late on against Roscommon in the Connacht semi-final of 2005 when he came on for Shane Fitzmaurice. He did the same again in the Round 4 qualifier win against Cavan before making his full senior debut in that year’s All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Kerry, where he was called into the starting fifteen at corner forward on the day due to an injury to Trevor Mortimer. He scored a point in that three-point loss to the Kingdom.
Barry hadn’t, though, finished his under-age career at that stage. I can’t find any record of his involvement in the 2005 U21 campaign (was he injured then?) but he was, of course, an integral part of the 2006 All-Ireland winning side of 2006. He partnered Seamus O’Shea in the engine room right throughout that campaign, in a team that featured so many players who were destined to become household names at national level in the years since then.
2006 was also the year where he made his first appearance in a senior All-Ireland final, having earlier that summer picked up his first Connacht championship medal. The action he saw at senior level that year all came off the bench – it was Barry who replaced Ronan McGarrity when the Ballina player was pole-axed by Dublin’s Ciaran Whelan in the semi-final – and in the final he came on as a second half substitute for Kevin O’Neill.
Barry’s career was, though, one blighted by injury. One bad one stands out for me and that occurred in the 2007 All-Ireland U21 semi-final against Laois when he rose majestically to claim a ball at midfield early in the second half but came crashing down on his ankle. His departure from the fray all but ended our hopes in that match and it put Barry out of action for a fair while too. Once he’d recovered later that year, though, he was handed a new role with the seniors, John O’Mahony posting him at full-forward as we sought to rescue our championship campaign via the qualifiers. He did okay there too but that run ended dismally, with defeat to Derry in the second round.
It was in the same advanced role – along with Aidan O’Shea he formed part of a short-live Twin Towers full-forward line – that Barry won his second Connacht championship medal in 2009. Injury, though, intervened once again that summer with the Bird sidelined for our All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Meath due to a broken finger.
Barry was one of a number of players whom James Horan cut from his squad in 2011 – Tom Parsons was another – but in 2012 the Castlebar man returned to the panel and he proceeded to put in his finest year in a Mayo jersey. Barry played in all of our championship games that summer and put in a number of stand-out displays in a run that took us all the way to the All-Ireland final. He was nominated for an All-Star at midfield in 2012 and had we won Sam that year he’d surely have collected an All-Star award as well.
That, though, was the only final Barry started in. He came in off the bench for Seamus O’Shea in 2013 (another injury-hit year for him) and he also featured as a sub in both the drawn and replayed 2016 deciders. He was an unused sub in last year’s final.
It’s not a huge shock that Barry is calling it quits now. Work commitments are, according to that piece in the Mayo News, part of the reason for his decision but so too must be ever-decreasing game time. He never saw any action at all last year and, even though we lost our first-choice midfield pairing through injury this summer, Barry wasn’t called into the first fifteen to replace either Tom Parsons or Seamus O’Shea.
Barry’s final appearance for the senior team came off the bench earlier this year, against Donegal up in Ballybofey in March where he replaced Tom Parsons late on in that game. His final full appearance came against Kerry earlier in this year’s League campaign. In total Barry played in 70 competitive fixtures for the county at senior level.
Like so many players who battled hard for in the county colours, Barry has been forced to end his days as an inter-county player without a Celtic cross. His was a career interrupted all too regularly by injuries and so, sadly, it was one in which he was unable to display his considerable talents to the full on a consistent basis. He did, though, make a significant contribution to the cause during his time on the senior panel and he deserves thanks and praise from Mayo supporters everywhere for his long service in the Green and Red. Thanks for the memories, Bird.